Gorkhatimes

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Debris double travel time – Landslides & indisciplined motorists clog roads

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 6, 2009

A queue of vehicles on NH31 near Sevoke on Friday after landslides blocked the highway.

A queue of vehicles on NH31 near Sevoke on Friday after landslides blocked the highway.

Kalimpong, July 5: The recent landslides that struck NH31 and NH31A, the highways linking Kalimpong/Gangtok to Siliguri, have increased the travel time by more than double.

In normal circumstances, the time taken to travel the 65-km stretch between Kalimpong and Siliguri is two hours. But since the multiple landslides occurred on the road during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, it has been taking not less than four hours to cover the distance.

Commuters have complained that the traffic congestion is not because of landslides alone. Indiscipline indulged in by a section of motorists in the absence of adequate management of traffic on the highway also contributes to the factor.

Officials of the Border Roads Organisation, which maintains NH31A, have agreed that managing traffic has become a headache, but they, too, are helpless. “It is the job of police. We have brought the matter to the attention of the district authorities, but the problem continues,” said one of them.

The major problem, though, remains lack of discipline. “If drivers maintain their track, traffic can flow smoothly — even though there will be delays as some stretches of the highway are open only to one way movement of vehicles,” said the BRO official. “Some motorists jump the queue in a hurry to reach first, but end up forming double lines.”

The worst affected stretch of the road is between the Sevoke rail gate and Kalijhora. Apart from many landslides, a 2km-stretch of the road shy of Coronation Bridge has caved in. “We were stuck in that stretch for more than two-and-a-half hours yesterday. This is the first time I have had to undergo such an ordeal on the highway,” said Yuvraj Chhetri, a schoolteacher.

Jiten Tamang said he had to cancel his trip here from Mirik because of the traffic jam. “After arriving in Siliguri this morning, I had gone to board a jeep to Kalimpong from Panitanki More, where I came to know about the snarl. I decided to abort my trip since I had to return to Mirik today itself,” said Tamang.

In fact, very few jeeps — the most popular mode of transport between the two towns — plied today because of the landslides and traffic chaos.

The police, however, said they would require a huge contingent to manage the traffic on the highway. “With our limited manpower, we are doing our best. It will help if the motorists maintain discipline,” said an officer.

Source: The Telegraph

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